Re: Declaration.....Thomas McCormack's spin on Robert Johnson

Douglass Drozdow-St.Christian (stchri@MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA)
Fri, 3 Mar 1995 07:47:22 +0001

some things, even against better judgement, demand comment....

more tiresome than mr.johnson's wobbling between paranoid rage and
messianic self importance is mr. mccormacks puerile defense of
mr.johnson's "work" as fieldwork among the anthropologists....

there have been informed and telling and even damning criticisms of
'anthropology' as an academic project over the years....from perspectives
as diverse as the philosophy of science to the political rights
condemnations of anything even potentially "not proper"...but only by
stretching the meaning of critique can mr.johnson's rant over the last
few weeks be characterized as anything more than misguided disgruntlement...

are their racist or "neo-colonialist" or sexist or imperialist
anthropologists? jesus, in hope so...not because i persoanlly champion
any of these isms but simply because if there were not i would begin to
worry about just what isolated gene pool anthropologists were being drawn

but just as the existence of pedophile priests says nothing compelling
about roman catholicism, so the presence of ism'ed anthropologists says
nothing about anthropology of any merit....

more troubling for me than the fact some of my colleagues susbscribe to
political and moral positions which i find repugnant, is the spectacle of
voices [letters???] in a public forum putting forward such vacuous
vitriol as has crossed my screen lately under the guise of offering some
alternative to some straw creature named anthropologies greivous sins....

the declaration of indigenous rights [ or whatever it was called...i did
not save the original text so mr.johnson is invited to calm down] is an
interesting, perhaps important, and certainly discussable set of
ideas...that it seems to reflect back on us some of the worst aspects of
our own cartoon clownish caricatures of the ubiquitous "native in touch
with nature" of our own representations of other tribes is also
compelling and interesting and worth discussing....

that it has anything to do with either mr. johnson's paranoia or mr.
mccormacks jejeune defence is, however, delirious....

i'm damned proud of the work i do as an anthropologist and i am also
alert and attentive to criticisms and complaints about that work and its
effects etc etc......most anthropologists i know share this critical and his tilt against the windmill like cabal of
anthro-censors has nothing to do with either this pride or this humility...

we can only hope that the people on the progressive sociologists list do
something egregious enough to attract mr johnson and his erstwhile
champion for a while....


douglass st.christian
anthropology - mcmaster u.
hamilton - canada
416 234 9978